Historically, there has not been much interest in standards regarding landscape irrigation systems, whether for turfgrass applications or planting beds. Much of the focus within the industry over the years has been on agricultural irrigation issues. The Irrigation Association, for example, has always worked with the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers which has been involved in the consensus standard setting process for many, many years. Within the past year, however, there have been heightened interests by entities outside of the irrigation industry noticing the lack of formalized standards regarding some irrigation products, specifically sprinklers, emitters, controllers and rain sensors. In response to this heightened interest, several organizations have increased their focus in this area. In 2010, IA added standards as one of its four main strategic objectives and created the IA Technical and Standards Committee. This new focus has already expanded IA’s influence over the creation of industry standards that drive efficient irrigation.
Why are standards so important?
Standards have been created for most of the things we use and see every day in order to facilitate a consistent experience or ensure safety. We probably don’t stop to think about how they affect our lives. For example, the way a road is painted to designate lanes or the design of a stop sign is the same all over the country. Standards are implemented to maintain consistency in the products we use every day—standards for road signage help reduce confusion and driver stress, which facilitates a more enjoyable and safe driving experience.
Very few standards currently exist in landscape irrigation, however, for the components of sprinkler systems. Some members of the irrigation community are hard at work developing standards for products and performance efficiency, while others are hard at work innovating new products for the market. These standards are used to ensure safety and consistency in irrigation products, to both determine which materials are used and to establish criteria for how the product should perform. The challenge that the standards committees face is striking a balance that supports safety as well as the ability to bring creativity to the marketplace.
Performance and testing standards provide the consumer or end-user with a level of confidence that the product will function as advertised. It is the consistency in product safety and performance that builds brand loyalty and assures a consistent result. Even though a standard has not yet been formalized for irrigation sprinklers, the leading manufacturers have essentially established internal standards and hold themselves accountable for providing excellent products that have specifiers, contractors and consumers using them again and again. And at the Irrigation Association, we’re working toward developing standards for these products.
So how is a standard created?
Standards are established by a group of interested parties who have the experience, expertise and authority to identify a constant rule, model or example of how a product or process should work across various applications or situations. The preferred method is to create a standard by obtaining a consensus from a group of people with diverse backgrounds and experience. IA is working with various committees in order to lobby on behalf of fair standards and best practices to support efficient irrigation. IA members such as myself have been serving on committee such as the International Code Council Landscape Irrigation Emission Devices Standard Consensus Committee, a group created in order to write a standard that adheres to the process outlined by the American National Standards Institute. In partnership with water providers, we are also driving the Smart Water Application Technologies program, where we’ve been writing testing protocols for evaluating efficient irrigation technologies.
As more standards are required for landscape irrigation products and practices, and as more innovations reach the market, the Irrigation Association plans to support industry members’ needs for fair and efficient irrigation methods.
Task Groups Developed During ICC Meeting
The International Code Council’s Landscape Emission Devices Standard Consensus Committee created both a Sprinkler Test Methods and Design Task Group and a Microirrigation Test Methods and Design Task Group during the first committee meeting.
Michael Dukes, PhD, PE, CID, University of Florida, will chair the sprinkler task group. The microirrigation task group will be led by Irrigation Association’s Industry Development Director, Brent Mecham, CID, CLWM, CAIS, CIC, CLIA, CGIA. Both groups will discuss what should be included in the standard for product testing and performance. The Landscape Emission Devices Standard Consensus Committee is chaired by Tim Malooly, CID, CIC, CLIA, PLT, Irrigation by Design, an industry leader with more than 20 years of experience.
Conference calls for the task groups took place on September 28. The first face-to-face meeting took place in Las Vegas at South Point Hotel and Conference Center on Oct. 4. The sprinkler task group and the microirrigation task group both met to discuss standards issues. For more information, please visit www.iccsafe.org.
SWAT Test Protocols Finalized The Smart Water Application Technologies initiative finalized the third draft of the test protocol for soil moisture sensors and soil moisture-based controllers. Comments from the previous 30-day public comment period for the second draft have been incorporated into the third draft. To view the test protocol, visit www.irrigation.org/gov/swat_drafts-soil/.
Comments for the second draft of the test protocol for pressure-regulated heads are open for 90 days, closing on December 15, 2011. The draft is posted for review at www.irrigation.org/SWAT/Draft_Protocols /Sprinklers.aspx. Public comments will be posted each week during the comment period. To submit comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Landscape Management Survey: Share your opinion The Smart Water Applications Technologies Promotions Working Group has created an online survey on environmental issues and emerging best practices for landscape management. The group is seeking input from all landscape irrigation professionals with green industry interests.
Survey findings will help to shape new educational resources to guide green industry professionals in meeting the sustainability needs of urban landscapes. The survey is open through Nov. 11. Please take a few minutes to complete the online survey at www.survey monkey.com/s/SWATPWG2011.
SWAT at WaterSmart Innovations and 2011 Irrigation Show SWAT held informational briefings at WaterSmart Innovations in Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday, October 5, and at the Irrigation Show and Innovations in Irrigation Education Conference in San Diego, California on Sunday, November 6. These briefings were part of SWAT’s ongoing effort toward developing a comprehensive landscape irrigation water efficiency certification plan and gain further input on potential educational efforts for 2012.